OTTAWA — On September 9, Mélanie Joly and Caroline Wawzonek, — co-chairs of the Canadian Council of Tourism Ministers (CCTM) — hosted a virtual meeting of Canada’s tourism ministers (New Brunswick was unable to attend because of the provincial election).

During the meeting, ministers continued their dialogue and collaboration and recognized that the travel-and-tourism sector is one of the sectors most heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Destination Canada, tourism-related spending in 2020 is expected to be 43- to 61-per-cent lower than in 2019.

Ministers were further briefed on the economic outlook and challenges facing tourism businesses by partners, including the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and Destination Canada. There was also recognition that the considerable uncertainty associated with the pandemic will continue to dampen structural demand for the tourism sector for some time.

As the industry adapts to the changes brought on by the pandemic, the council discussed how best to position Canadian destinations for the eventual return of the international-tourism market, including issues related to industry competitiveness and approaches to preserving Canadian strategic advantages for a successful recovery phase. In this regard, members strongly endorsed the role of tourism as a key driver of inclusive community development and contributor to community resiliency, empowerment, economic development and economic recovery; re-affirming the critical role that Indigenous tourism can play in this effort.

Ministers committed to remaining in regular contact, working together to support the sector’s re-emergence and enabling safe tourism activity in the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

At the time of the CCTM meeting, the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable (CTTR) — representing the largest cross-section of travel-and-tourism employers and stakeholders — stressed the urgent need for dialogue and action with governments.

“The only way to sustain the sector is for industry leaders to be at the table with government and collectively put a plan together that aims at sector relief and measured re-opening,” says Steve Sammut, president & CEO of Vancouver-based Rocky Mountaineer. “The CTTR has repeatedly reached out to government to start a dialogue on how we can approach a re-opening of our sector in a safe and measured fashion.”

“We’re asking this government to act on measures taken around the world, such as testing and opening safe travel corridors to get our businesses, employees and customers moving again,” adds Mike McNaney, president & CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada. “We hope the ministers will consider our ask for a coordinated summit with industry and government leaders to prevent long-term structural changes to our sector. Nearly two-million Canadians depend on it.”

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